The Prince Questions and Answers
by Niccolo Machiavelli

The Prince book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What is the role of armies, according to Machiavelli in The Prince?

Expert Answers info

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write12,104 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

At the time when Machiavelli wrote The Prince most Italian states relied on mercenaries for their defense. Machiavelli's own Republic of Florence was one such state, much to Machiavelli's frustration. The political leaders of the city believed that establishing a standing army was a potential threat to liberty and could be used as an instrument of oppression by would-be tyrants. Less nobly, they believed that a standing army would be too expensive to maintain.

Machiavelli thought this a dangerously short-sighted attitude. He argued instead that a standing army was essential to the long-term stability of the state. An over-reliance on mercenaries had severely weakened Florence and other states, making the whole Italian peninsula vulnerable to foreign invasion and interference, especially from the French.

Machiavelli is insistent that a prince, in order to be an effective ruler, must always be able to command his own native troops. Otherwise, his principality would never be secure. As...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 658 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,494 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Alec Cranford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write5,872 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial